It feels like yesterday when we started this event. But all of a sudden, we have just done with the 29th edition. The Braga Jazz Walk #29 got long time friends who happily shared their love and passion of jazz in multi-colored soundscapes. We know them since the beginning. Some of them have achieved success, either by playing in prestigious stages, getting wide media exposure, gaining fans and of course, recording. Some are still on the way, but surely we see tremendous progress. Since we wish to push the regeneration of jazz musicians forward as our mission, all of them represent the bright future of jazz in Bandung or Indonesia in general.
Speaking of the musical canvas, the strecthed it up wide to reach the distortive sound of heavy metal. Plus, we also got a phenomenal boy we used to feature before but haven’t been here for quite some times due to his busy schedule along his success.
We will let you know more about it, but first let’s get down to the first performance. We decided to start the event lite with exotic, smooth, breezy bossa tunes courtesy of a dynamic duo called Billy & Joe Bossa. As the name says, this duo consists of a former campursari (a mixture between dangdut and other genres especially Javanese) Billy Likumahuwa and Joe Bastian (guitar). Joining them were M Rizqi Pratama, his friend who also plays with them in Fine Taste. So it was like a small reunion of the band in bossanova fashion.
From two to trio, they started with two Jobim’s timeless gems “One Note Samba” and “Corcovado” which Billy demonstrated his new ability, the mouth muted trumpet. Then he did the familiar whistling tune, covering Jamie Foxx’s sweet song featured in RIO OST, “Fly Love”. The guitar connection between Joe and Rizqi served their session well. In this song Billy also included scat-singing. For the last song he came back to another classic from Jobim, “Meditation” which was remarkably sung in the original Portuguese language.
Billy has always been fascinated by the songs of Antonio Carlos Jobim and other bossa legends. Some thought bossanova was easy, but actually it needed skill and heart to be able to do it well. Especially if you decide to sing in the native Portuguese language, Billy wasn’t born with the language. But he did well in memorizing and singing the song in the exact language. Joe once again proved that he is a great guitarist especially in bossa. Rizqi added more colors over their canvas. We hadn’t get bossa in this event for quite some times, thanks to Billy, Joe and Rizqi, we got the charm and beauty again.
The second round offered us to enter the wild ride. It was New Equinox, a jazz trio which has been in the squared circle for about 4 or 5 years. They have gone through some changes, even a moment of hiatus, but since the first month of 2016 they speed up. Not only getting more and more performances but also working on an album. Their debut album titled “Standards” was released a month ago, distributed independently by themselves. The current members are son of Kanggep Kusuma, Alman Naufal (drums) who has become the member since day one, Ezra Manuhutu, son of Venche Manuhutu on bass (formerly a saxophonist) and expressive pianist resides in Singapore, Jason Limanjaya. This formation works like magic.
We haven’t featured them in this event for a while. As they are promoting the album, we spared one spot for them. The wild drive of Alman and Jason directly hit everyone right from the first song, “Inner Urge” originally by Joe Henderson. Ezra tuned in well with his melodical rhythm too. Then they went a little bit smoother with “On Green Dolphin Street”. “You should know the words ‘friend zone’ right? Listen to this next one.” said Jason smiling, which led to “Just Friend”. Alman then told everyone that they still got two more songs, Wes Montgomery’s “4 on 6” and “All the Things You Are”. In both songs they poured every drop of energy they still had left, resulting a joyful wild-ride.
The combination of two expressive musicians on drum and piano plus one calm-looking bassist who is getting more and more braver works like a charm. They go boldly executing complex compositions mostly made by senior composer/pianist Imam Pras, and some by Kanggep and themselves. These boys play freely. Sometimes they throw punches, in other times they work collectively in building fine pieces. As usual, what a ride. They took risks but safely landed at the end of each song. Even those who doesn’t like bebop or straightahead would enjoy the action brought by these boys. Some play jazz sweet and smooth, some goes exploring and explosive. New Equinox shows us that jazz can be edgy yet cool. Ever thought of fasten your seatbelt while listening to pure jazz trio? These boys are capable to bring that on.
The third round got the return of a phenomenal boy who has been enjoying his huge success for quite some times. Yes, Kafin Sulthan was here again after almost two years. We first met him by chance when we visited Venche Music School and he was there learning from Yahya Salam at that time. Realizing the special gift that he had at that time, we invited him to perform in our first-ever regular event. When we moved to this venue, we invited him a couple of times. But then he found his solid grip by becoming one of the 7 amazing children of Di Atas Rata-Rata (Above Average) created by Erwin and Gita Gutawa.
He was already good before that – even joined the Laskar Pelangi team – but he improves a lot in this group. He represents jazz in it with his fingers and vocal, but he is also enhanced in his appearance. No matter how big the stage, he owns it. No matter how many artists or even stars he is sharing the stage with, he still shines bright. Then, one of the things that makes us proud of him is when he became one of the featured singer of David Foster’s show at the Java Jazz Festival 2016 last March.
From there he got more big momentum such as appearing on tv including being interviewed by senior news presenter Desi Anwar for CNN and a memorable performance aired on Metro TV: Voice of Refugees 2016 for United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), singing Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” then joining the All Stars singing and rapping on “Take Me In, Save The World”. Prambanan Heritage Jazz Festival and Synchronize Fetival were two of the prestigious spots that he recently landed on. He also is AMI Awards 2016 winner. Really amazing boy.
For this time he performed along with a drummer also started from teens, Geby Christian and Arief Rosmadi on drums. They started with jazz standard “All of Me” where Kafin directly demonstrated his ability in finger-dancing on jazz notes and singing at the same time, also leading his team mates. Then he moved to more difficult materials. Starting with Dave Brubeck’s monumental piece “Take Five”, he kept on building the momentum like a genius architect to meet another song of Brubeck which has the unusual rhythm and time signatures inspired by Turkish musicians he once met on the street, “Blue Rondo a la Turk.” If Brubeck switched to swing sections, Kafin got another idea to funk it up. It works really, really well! While the keys and tempo should already give problem to be delivered completely, Kafin somehow still added his vocal work in both songs. What a magical boy. Arief and Geby kept the structure strong and tall.
“Next is the song that actually brought me to join David Foster”, he said. It’s Al Jarreau’s big hit co-written by David Foster and Jay Graydon, “Mornin'”. This song allowed Kafin to show his ability to reach high notes. As much as we enjoyed his performance, he came to the last track which for us should very well be his signature song, Ismail Marzuki’s “Layang-Layang.” We have heard him singing this song many times but we can never get bored with it. Under loud applause from his Bandung-based fans, the audience and mall-goers/passers-by, he said thank you and sealed his gig.
Kafin Sulthan is genius in many ways: in his study (his far exceed the grade of normal children of his age), he is an architect and illustrator, memorizing and of course, music. Since we are connected with him in terms of music, we showcase his prodigy in music. And yes, this boy is phenomenal. Mind you he is still 12 years old, meaning he still has a lot of time to
grow. As now he is also learning from the jazz sensei Imam Pras other than getting gudance from the Gutawas, we know that he still has a lot more things to come. Well, we are happy to have him back. Thank you Kafin for being with us again despite of your busy schedule, and thank you Geby and Arief too. Keep the awesomeness going!
So far we have given a lot of cool moments with some punches found here and there. But wait, we still got one more performer that we believe would give a knock out punch. That’s the AFA Trio! Consisting of three lethal young guns: Anjuan Julio (guitar), Fabian Gifariansyah (bass) and Raka Rizkyandi (drums), this band loves to push the word fusion to the extreme, producing sharp, high voltage jazz rock or even jazz metal. You can call them a rock trio, but no one would argue that they are jazz too. They are not the first in Indonesia who embrace this edgy side of jazz, it’s true. But they do have strong, distinctive concept which should be more than enough to stand as their solid signature.
This band is still around a year in the scene, having its birth in Butterfield Jazz Society, but they have landed big on prestigious stages including this year’s Java Jazz Festival and World Youth Jazz Festival in Malaysia. We have known these boys before the AFA Trio was born and seen them grow. Now that they are together as one, we know that this group will speak loud in our music scene, crossing lines between jazz, rock and everything else in between.
They began with the haunting horror sound made by Anjuan as the intro of “7 Years Tragedy”, a song telling a story of the terrorist bombings which occured in Jakarta, from JW Marriott to Ritz Carlton Hotel which occured in 7 years interval. This song captured the horror and fast-moving thriller with lots of provocative distortion, busy basslines and graphic drum beating. On the next song “7+5” which was far calmer, they placed samba feel inside their jazz-metal canvas. They went joyful with “Unlimited Fun Cool” without throwing away their edgy rockin’ pattern followed by “Dancing the Night Paradise” which redefines the party in paradise mode in heavy rock mode. The medley of “Dream Again” and “Move On” created a climax where the audience became a part of their show through clapping, chanting and cheering.
Anjuan has a strong traditional and modern jazz background, but with this group he is excited in digging more the rockin’ side of it, pushing his territory to the far edge. Fabian is an excellent bassit rooted in jazz with funky punch. As for Raka, he has a deep blues background then later groove. He’s been playing in various formation, but trio seems to be the best habitat for him. No one would believe that he is still in the band for a couple of month since he blends in perfectly with Anjuan and Fabian. As for these last mentioned boys, they remind us of young Tohpati and Indro Hardjodikoro, one of the true soulmates in music. All original song, plus some excerpts of “Amazing Grace” and “We Will Rock You” were just magnificent.
Twistin’, high voltage jazz rock repertoires from them are electrifying. The music should satisfy jazz and non jazz fans, especially the die hard heavy metal and rock lovers. Maybe their music could be too loud for some, but we say, if the music feels too loud, you’re too old! As a straight evidence, they managed to keep most of the audience watching them until the end exceeding the mall’s closing time. These three young men have the chance to make jazz interesting with rock, vice versa. Man, what a band, what a concept. We lost our breath.
We are happy with this edition since we got the chance to see the tremendous progress of young musicians who are connected to us quite from the beginning. Some of them have gotten such momentum which we all can be proud of, some are on the way to be there. One thing’s certain, they all have grown so much from the first time we saw them.
We thank all the musicians, our partners and everyone who came and had fun with us! Since the next edition will be in December, we are preparing a Special Christmas Edition. There will be a cute and very talented 5 year-old girl, the return of an action-packed band, a noir-ish band and, hey, you can enjoy Christmas in rockin’ blues way too! Stay tuned for that, we will see you again then!
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